Iran wins 0

Here’s the deal that Obama has made with Iran, reported by Omri Ceren who has proved to be the most reliable provider of information on the negotiations:

The following has all been confirmed:

(1) The Iranian nuclear program will be placed under international sponsorship for R&D – A few weeks ago the AP leaked parts of an annex confirming that a major power would be working with the Iranians to develop next-generation centrifuge technology at the Fordow underground military enrichment bunker. Technically the work won’t be on nuclear material, but the AP noted that “isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered to enriching uranium”.  The administration had once promised Congress that Iran would be forced to dismantle its centrifuge program. The Iranians refused, so the administration conceded that the Iranians would be allowed to keep their existing centrifuges. Now the international community will be actively sponsoring the development of Iranian nuclear technology. And since the work will be overseen by a great power, it will be off-limits to the kind of sabotage that has kept the Iranian nuclear program in check until now.

(2) The sanctions regime will be shredded – the AP revealed at the beginning of June that the vast majority of the domestic U.S. sanctions regime will be dismantled. The Lausanne factsheet – which played a key role in dampening Congressional criticism to American concessions – had explicitly stated “U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.” That turns out to have been false. Instead the administration will redefine non-nuclear sanctions as nuclear, so that it can lift them. The Iranians are boasting that sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank, NIT Co., the National Iranian Oil Company, and 800 individuals and entities will be lifted. That’s probably exaggerated and a bit confused – CBI sanctions are statutory, and will probably not be getting “lifted” – but the sense is clear enough.

(3) The U.S. collapsed on the arms embargo – Just a week ago Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.” Now multiple outlets have confirmed that the embargo on conventional weapons will be lifted no later than 5 years from now, and that the embargo on ballistic missiles will expire in 8 years. No one in the region is going to wait for those embargoes to expire: they’ll rush to build up their stockpiles in anticipation of the sunset.

(4) The U.S. collapsed on anytime-anywhere inspections – The IAEA will get to request access to sensitive sites, the Iranians will get to say no, and then there will be an arbitration board that includes Iran as a member. This concession is particularly damaging politically and substantively because the administration long ago went all-in on verification. The original goal of the talks was to make the Iranians take physical actions that would prevent them from going nuclear if they wanted to: dismantling centrifuges, shuttering facilities, etc. The Iranians said no to those demands, and the Americans backed off. The fallback position relied 100% on verification: yes the Iranians would be physically able to cheat, the argument went, but the cheating would be detected because of an anytime-anywhere inspection regime. That is not what the Americans are bringing home.

(5) The U.S. collapsed on PMDs [possible military dimensions] – This morning the Iranians and the IAEA signed a roadmap for a process that would see Tehran eventually providing access for the IAEA to clear up its concerns. This roadmap differs in no significant way from previous commitments the Iranians have made to the agency, except now Tehran will have received sanctions relief and stabilized its economy

Posted under China, Diplomacy, Europe, France, Germany, Iran, jihad, Muslims, News, Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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Steps of surrender 0

A video, published July 6, 2015, tells the story:

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Posted under Diplomacy, Iran, jihad, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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Giving in to Iran all the way 0

Of course yet another “deadline” (hahahaha!) has been passed in the Capitulate-to-Iran talks now going on and on in Vienna.

And according to the latest report by Omri Ceren – all of whose reports have so far proved to be accurate – the US is preparing to cave yet again. (And so will the rest 0f the P5+1 group   – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany – ostensibly participating in the negotiations but really just letting the US lead the verbal dance to surrender.)

Notice that the European Union is also represented there by Frederica Mogherini, grandly named the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The parties missed another deadline this morning, and talks are now expected to go through the end of the week. Mogherini told reporters this morning: “I am not talking about extension. I am talking about taking the hours we need to try to complete our work.” (?) The overwhelming consensus from press and analysts here in Vienna nonetheless hasn’t changed: the parties will indeed announce some kind of agreement before they leave, though it will almost certainly have details that will need to be sorted out in future negotiations. How that aligns with the administration’s legal obligation to provide Congress with all final details the deal is anyone’s guess at this point.

Meanwhile the Obama administration and its allies are laying the groundwork for another U.S. collapse, this time on inspections. Couple of indicators:

(1) They’re giving up on promising “the most robust inspection/verification regime in history”

Here’s President Obama during his April 2 speech about the Lausanne announcement: “Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history”.

Here’s White House spokesman Josh Earnest at the beginning of May echoing the boast: “what President Obama has indicated must be part of any nuclear agreement… is the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country’s nuclear program”.

But now here’s White House validator Daryl Kimball talking to Politico a couple days ago: “this particular agreement will establish the most extensive, multilayered system of nuclear monitoring and verification for any country not defeated in a war“. Catch the caveat about wartime defeat? …

For 20 months the administration promised Congress that Iran had been sufficiently coerced by sanctions that Tehran would accept anytime/anywhere inspections. Many in Congress disagreed and urged the administration to boost American leverage by working with the Hill to pass time-triggered sanctions. The administration responded with two different media wars that included accusations – including some by the President – describing lawmakers as warmongers beholden to “donor” money. Congress was right and the administration was wrong. Why would lawmakers now accept a weaker inspection regime than what the administration said it could secure, and what administration officials smeared lawmakers for doubting?

(2) A new talking point is that the IAEA’s technology makes up for the P5+1 collapsing on inspections

This appeared in two articles yesterday (the NYT and the Daily Beast). The two stories are fantastically geeky reads about the IAEA’s toys, but that’s not what the administration officials and validators wanted to focus on. Instead you had Energy Secretary Moniz telling the NYT that the technology “lowers the requirement for human inspectors going in” and Kimball telling the Daily Beast that the technology meant that the IAEA would be able to “detect [nuclear activities] without going directly into certain areas”. 

This argument is terrible and scientists should be embarrassed they’re making it.

In its story the NYT quoted Olli Heinonen – a 27-year veteran of the IAEA who sat atop the agency’s verification shop – all but rolling his eyes:

Mr. Heinonen, the onetime inspection chief, sounded a note of caution, saying it would be naïve to expect that the wave of technology could ensure Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. In the past, he said, Tehran has often promised much but delivered little. “Iran is not going to accept it easily,” he said, referring to the advanced surveillance. “We tried it for 10 years.” Even if Tehran agrees to high-tech sleuthing, Mr. Heinonen added, that step will be “important but minor” compared with the intense monitoring that Western intelligence agencies must mount to see if Iran is racing ahead in covert facilities to build an atomic bomb.

The most fundamental problem is that IAEA procedures require physical environmental samples to confirm violations. They can use futuristic lasers and satellites to *detect* that Iran is cheating. But to confirm the cheating they need environmental samples, and usually multiple rounds of samples. Without that level of proof – which requires access – the agency simply wouldn’t tell the international community that it was certain Iran is in violation.

That’s before even beginning the discussion about why technology can’t make up for access to people, facilities, and documents – without which the IAEA won’t even know where to point its lasers and satellites.

But this is what the administration has left: the Iranians can’t be expected to grant anytime/anywhere access but that’s OK because the IAEA has cool toys.

Have the Iranians conceded anything? Is there anything the US has not conceded?

Has the whole performance been nothing but a charade to cover Obama’s determination that Iran should get its nukes?

Why would he want that? To make sure Islam is a strong force in the world? So the state of Israel will be destroyed? So the United States will be a weaker force in the world?

Or …. ?

Extreme peril 1

Obama, through his lackey John Kerry, continues to woo the hellish regime of the Iranian Ayatollahs. He longs for a “deal” at any cost.

He is doing everything possible to help them become a nuclear-armed power.

This really is, without exaggeration, the worst threat, the gravest danger, the world as a whole has ever faced. The threat of the imposition of world control by Communist Russia was grave, but the Russians were not willing to die in massive numbers when a retaliation to their attack descended on them. The Muslim Iranians “love death”, and reckon that Muslims would be happy to die and go to their brothel in the sky; and that, however heavy the retaliation, there would still be a lot of Muslims left alive to dominate – perhaps exclusively occupy – this world.

Either Obama does not realize that he is putting the world in extremest danger, or he must want what the Ayatollahs want.

What is that? The destruction of Israel, certainly,and he’s cool with that. But he cannot believe that Israel is the Iranians’ only target. They continue to scream “Death to America!” loud and clear while the charade of “negotiations” for the “deal” is in progress. He must be cool with that too. Do his P5+1 claques feel the same way? Seems so.

Their latest move is to HELP Iran get “the bomb”.

George Jahn writes at AP:

Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran’s supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he’s willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal. …

Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.

Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei’s remarks, saying Wednesday they were [only] for “domestic political consumption”. …

In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran’s Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV. …

The West has held out the prospect of providing Iran peaceful nuclear technology in the nearly decade-long effort to reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. But the scope of the help now being offered in the draft displeases U.S. congressional critics who say Washington is giving away too much.

“These continued concessions only emboldened Iran’s leaders to press for more,” Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The way these negotiations are moving, it is increasingly difficult to see the administration striking a meaningful, lasting agreement that would be acceptable to Congress.” …

[A draft annex] entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. …

Outlining plans to modify that heavy-water reactor, the draft, dated June 19, offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

The eight-page draft also promises “arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided,” and offers help in the “construction and effective operation” of the reactors and related hardware. It offers cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, research, nuclear waste removal and other peaceful applications. …

[But] because isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered, the compromise has been criticized by congressional opponents of the proposed deal.

Scott Johnson comments at PowerLine:

This is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection.

Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs. Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.

As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.

A couple of obvious points. First, it means the P5+1 will be actively providing the Iranians with the tools to break out while a deal is in place. The Iranians will already have 300kg of 3.67% uranium on hand, and they’ll be able to scale up production as they need because the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] lets them keep 5,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz and lets them keep another 10,000 centrifuges in storage available to be installed. They can bring low enriched material to Fordow and quickly enrich it to weapons-grade levels in the next-generation centrifuges they’ll have developed with P5+1 assistance. Second – again – it means that the P5+1 will be actively ensuring that Iran will have the technology to go nuclear at will the instant the deal expires. The technology the Iranians learn to develop at Fordow will be applied on a mass scale.

To that end, the draft, entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak … [and]  offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

Light-water reactors are significantly more proliferation-resistant than heavy-water reactors (in fact there’s no reason to build a heavy water reactor – of the type that the Iranians have been working on – unless you want to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon). But even LWRs are not proliferation proof, and a plutonium bomb isn’t the only concern.

Imagine that 15 years from now the Iranians have built a dozen LWRs with help from a P5+1 nation. One concern is indeed that they’ll kick out inspectors, keep the spent fuel, and start reprocessing on the way to creating a plutonium bomb. But a more subtle concern is that they will use the existence of the LWRs as a pretext for industrial-scale uranium enrichment – because they’ll say they need the uranium fuel for their plutonium plants – which can serve as a cover for breaking out with a uranium bomb. The P5+1 would be actively providing the Iranians with diplomatic leverage to use against the P5+1 in the future.

Pantsuit on fire 1

Democrats have tried to squirm their way out from under the heap of evidence Peter Schweizer provides of Hillary Clinton’s corruption in his book Clinton Cash, by saying that it is “only circumstantial” – as if that means it is invalid. Merely fictitious and libelous outpourings by “the vast right-wing conspiracy” (of Hillary Clinton’s invention), and so deserving of no notice whatsoever except to be totally dismissed.

Of course, Hillary Clinton herself has taken pains to destroy hard evidence of her seeking payment for favors while she was in office – isn’t that similar to what Christians call  “simony”? –  by deleting all her emails from the years when she was (ludicrously) Secretary of State.

Writing at the New York Post, Peter Schweizer replies to his critics, commenting on just one – but perhaps the worst – incident of extortion or acceptance of bribes by the Clintons:

Grave incompetence or brazen dishonesty?

Those are the only two conclusions one can reasonably come to after reviewing Hillary Clinton’s stunning Sunday interview on local New Hampshire TV.

When WMUR local TV host Josh McElveen asked Clinton why her State Department greenlit the transfer of 20 percent of all US uranium to the Russian government, Clinton claimed she had no involvement in her own State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium One to Russia.

“I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did,” said Clinton.

The transfer of 20 percent of US uranium — the stuff used to build nuclear weapons — to Vladimir Putin did not rise to the level of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s time and attention?

Beyond being an admission of extreme executive negligence on an issue of utmost national security, Hillary’s statement strains credulity to the breaking point for at least three other reasons.

First, nine investors who profited from the uranium deal collectively donated $145 million to Hillary’s family foundation, including Clinton Foundation mega-donor and Canadian mining billionaire Frank Giustra, who pledged $100 million.

Since 2005, Giustra and Bill Clinton have frequently globetrotted together, and there’s even a Clinton Foundation initiative named the Clinton-Giustra initiative.

But Hillary expects Americans to believe she had no knowledge that a man who made a nine-figure donation to her foundation was deeply involved in the deal? Nor eight other mining executives, all of whom also donated to her foundation?

Second, during her Sunday interview, Clinton was asked about the Kremlin-backed bank that paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a single speech delivered in Moscow. Hillary’s response? She dodged the question completely and instead offered this blurry evasion.

“The timing doesn’t work,” said Clinton. “It happened in terms of the support for the foundation before I was secretary of state.”

Hillary added that such “allegations” are being “made by people who are wielding the partisan ax.”

The reason Hillary ignored addressing the $500,000 direct payment from the Kremlin-backed bank to her husband is because that payment occurred, as the Times confirms, “shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One.”

And as for her comment that the timing of the uranium investors’ donations “doesn’t work” as a damning revelation: In fact, the timing works perfectly.

As Clinton Cash revealed and others have confirmed, Uranium One’s then-chief Ian Telfer made donations totaling $2.35 million that Hillary Clinton’s foundation kept hidden. Telfer’s donations occurred as Hillary’s State Department was considering the Uranium One deal.

Third, Clinton correctly notes in the interview that “there were nine government agencies who had to sign off on that deal.” What she leaves out, of course, is that her State Department was one of them, and the only agency whose chief received $145 million in donations from shareholders in the deal.

Does she honestly expect Americans to believe she was simply unaware that the deal was even under consideration in her own State Department?

Moreover, is that really the leadership statement she wants front and center heading into a presidential campaign? That in the critical moment of global leadership, with the Russians poised to seize 20 percent of US uranium, she was simply out to lunch?

Perhaps a review of her emails would settle the accuracy of her Sunday claim. But, of course, she erased her emails and wiped clean the secret server housed in her Chappaqua home.

To be sure, like those emails, Hillary Clinton wishes questions about her role in the transfer of US uranium to the Russian government would simply vanish.

But that’s unlikely. A recent polling memo by the Republican National Committee finds that the uranium transfer issue is “the most persuasive message tested” and one that “severely undercuts her perceived strength of resume.”

Hillary’s Sunday comments only served to elevate and amplify the need for serious answers to axial questions.

In the absence of such answers, Americans are left to believe only one of two potentialities regarding her involvement in the transfer of 20 percent of US uranium to Vladimir Putin: She was either dangerously incompetent or remains deeply dishonest.

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Saudi Arabia calls for religious tolerance 2

Saudi Arabia? Yes. Religious tolerance? Yes.

But the Saudis don’t really mean it, do they?  Of course not, but a little thing like that won’t stop them.

The Independent reports:

Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which has its headquarters in Jeddah – convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom’s Supreme Court prepared to rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.

The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.

And the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch accused HRC president Joachim Rücker of giving “false international legitimacy” to the two-day conference on religious freedoms held in Jeddah on 3 and 4 June.

According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the participants in the conference “began with an agreement to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect” – a pledge by all member states to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.

“In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.”

Invited to make the opening statement at the conference, Mr Rücker told the summit: “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”

But Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

“But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.”

Astonishing? Astonishing hypocrisy, yes. But what can be expected of the Saudis’ contemptible regime? It’s very existence is a mockery not only of tolerance, but also of  truth, decency, honesty, humanity.

It should inspire not astonishment but outrage and fury – if anyone in the flabby West is still capable of righteous anger.

*

Saudi Arabia is probably the most monocultural and intolerant country in the world. (Comparable only to Communist regimes.)

From Wikipedia:

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims. Neither Saudi citizens nor guest workers have the right of freedom of religion.The official and dominant form of Islam in the kingdom – Wahhabism – arose in the central region of Najd in the eighteenth century. Proponents call the movement “Salafism”, and believe that its teachings purify the practice of Islam of innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of Muhammad and his companions.

Saudi Arabia has “religious police” (known as Haia or Mutaween), who patrol the streets enforcing dress codes, strict separation of men and women, attendance at prayer (salat) five times each day, the ban on alcohol, and other aspects of Sharia (Islamic law). (In the privacy of the home behavior can be far looser, and reports indicate that the ruling Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself, indulging in parties, drugs and sex.) [Including, to our certain knowledge, homosexual sex (often with under-15-year-old boys), which is punishable by death under sharia – TAC.]

Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Businesses are closed three or four times a day for 30 to 45 minutes during business hours while employees and customers are sent off to pray. The weekend is Friday-Saturday, not Saturday-Sunday, because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims. As of 2004 approximately half of the broadcast airtime of Saudi state television was devoted to religious issues. 90% of books published in the kingdom were on religious subjects, and most of the doctorates awarded by its universities were in Islamic studies. In the state school system, about half of the material taught is religious. In contrast, assigned readings over twelve years of primary and secondary schooling devoted to covering the history, literature, and cultures of the non-Muslim world comes to a total of about 40 pages.

Public support for the traditional political/religious structure of the kingdom is so strong that one researcher interviewing Saudis found virtually no support for reforms to secularize the state.

Because of religious restrictions, Saudi culture lacks any diversity of religious expression, buildings, annual festivals and public events. Celebration of other (non-Wahhabi) Islamic holidays, such as the Muhammad’s birthday and the Day of Ashura, (an important holiday for the 10-25% of the population that is Shīʿa Muslim), are tolerated only when celebrated locally and on a small scale. Shia also face systematic discrimination in employment, education, the justice system. Non-Muslim festivals like Christmas and Easter are not tolerated at all, although there are nearly a million Christians as well as Hindus and Buddhists among the foreign workers. No churches, temples or other non-Muslim houses of worship are permitted in the country. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion by Muslims to another religion is illegal and punishable by death. And as of 2014 the distribution of “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” (such as Bibles), was reportedly punishable by death. 

Atheists are legally designated as terrorists. 

Saudis or foreign residents who “call into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” may be subject to as much as 20 years in prison. And at least one religious minority, the Ahmadiyya Muslims, had all its adherents deported, and they are legally banned from entering the country.

Next the UN will consider Saudi Arabia the ideal venue for an international conference on “diversity”. And after that, why not one on women’s rights?

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Diplomacy, Islam, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, United Nations by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 13, 2015

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The Rubio doctrine 33

Marco Rubio made an excellent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations; on how bad US foreign policy has been under Obama’s disastrous leadership, and what it ought to be.

He says “the three pillars of his doctrine” are “American strength, the protection of our global economy, and a proud advocacy for America’s core values.”

Here’s the video:

Posted under Defense, Diplomacy, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 15, 2015

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Sharing out the pieces of a shattered empire 5

Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.

Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.

The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:

A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.

Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.

To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”

Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.

All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.

Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.

Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”

The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.

But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.

The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).

Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.

While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.

In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.

Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.

But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.

 

* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.

What needs to be known about the Clintons’ charities 3

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is nominally a charitable institution.

We listed some of the “charities” it supports or has supported in our post The great good works and wonky dilemmas of William J. Clinton (April 18, 2015). The list includes a grant to China for its electricity grid, and a few to Ulrainian politicians to “modernize Ukraine”.

Apparently 15% of the hundreds of million that pour into the Foundation are dispersed to such good causes.

According to Wikipedia (see the entry on the Clinton Foundation):

Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised more than $500 million dollars according to its IRS filings. 15% of that, or $75 million, was spent on charitable activities. More than $25 million was spent on travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits.

Investigative reporting on who sends in the money and in return for what favors has been begun, astonishingly, by Left-biased media, The  New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters.

Now a report is needed on what is done with that money.

We don’t have the resources to find out. But even the sort of superficial research that’s within our capability turns up information that cries out for deeper, wider, professional exploration.

The very easily accessed Wikipedia entry on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative is a window-display of curiosities.

We select a few of them.:

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)  is a non-partisan organization that convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Each year, CGI hosts an Annual Meeting in September, scheduled to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly.

At the Annual Meeting, CGI members discuss major global issues, share ideas and knowledge about effective solutions, and form partnerships that enable them to enhance their work.

Each CGI member develops a Commitment to Action – a plan to take specific action to make the world a better place.

What work?

Commitments generally fit within one of CGI’s nine tracks:

The Built Environment

Education & Workforce Development

Energy

Solar and wind?

Environmental Stewardship

Girls & Women

Global Health

By “Global Health” is meant what? The health of the globe, or the health of all the people on the globe?

Market-Based Approaches

A “commitment” to “approaches”?

Response & Resilience

Response to what? Whose resilience?

Technology

Commitments must be new, specific, and measurable, but beyond those three criteria, members have wide latitude to determine which actions to take. CGI then monitors the progress and success of these commitments throughout the year.

So there should be lots of reports on the progress and success of the “commitments”.

Funding pledged through commitments does not come through CGI, and is not donated to CGI. Rather, organizations commit to raise and distribute money on their own.

Since 2005, CGI members have made more than 2,300 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

Throughout the year, CGI helps its members – primarily corporations, NGOs, and government leaders – maximize their efforts to create positive change. CGI is not a grant-making organization. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. As of 2013, CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.

So the CGI makes no grants. It does not itself disperse funds. It is for influence peddling. What it does is get powerful and/or celebrated people together once a year to “make commitments”. At the same time they make themselves more powerful and/or more celebrated. For which they reward Bill Clinton by making lavish donations to his Foundation?

In addition,it “helps” those people, “throughout the year”, to “maximize their efforts to create positive change”. When funded and implemented by others – not the Clinton Global Initiative – these “commitments” will be valued at $73.5 billion. Indeed, 2,300 such commitments have already “improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries”.

Who are the 400 million people? How have their lives been improved? How do the improvements stem from the “commitments” made at the annual convention organized by the Clinton Global Initiative? .

On June 13 and 14 of 2013, President Clinton hosted the third meeting of CGI America in Chicago, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. This working meeting purportedly brought together leaders from the business, foundation, NGO, and government sectors to develop solutions to increase employment, advance access to education and skills development, strengthen energy security, and promote an environment for business growth and innovation.

Were the effects noticed by the people of the United States? Were they noticeable at all?

Responding to increasing interest among business and governments around the world, President Clinton launched CGI International to supplement the Annual Meeting in New York with additional meetings in various regions of the globe.

In December 2008, President Clinton convened the first CGI International meeting in Hong Kong to address local, regional, and global challenges. The focus of the CGI meeting in Asia was on three main areas: education, energy and climate change, and public health. The two-day meeting attracted over 3,000 accredited delegates, a record number for a nongovernmental organization gathering in Asia.

One thing is certain. Bill Clinton is having a whale of a time being important at vast gatherings in many places round the world.

Prominent participants included … thought leaders such as … Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN.

We await the Little Red Book of the Thoughts of Ban Ki-moon.

Remember, all this costs the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and its Global Initiative nothing. How much the meetings gather in for the Clintons it would be interesting to know.

The CGI does give awards. To whom do they go? For what?

The Clinton Global Citizen Awards are a set of awards which have been given by the Clinton Global Initiative every year since 2007. The awards are given to individuals who, in the opinion of the Clinton Foundation, are “outstanding individuals who exemplify global citizenship through their vision and leadership“.  

Past recipients of the award include Mexican business magnate and philanthropist Carlos Slim …

.. who is said to be the richest man in the world …

 Moroccan entrepreneur Mohammad Abbad Andaloussi, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Afghan women’s rights activist Suraya Pakzad, and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández.[35]

What did they do? Of what did the award consist? If money, how much? And does that money come from CGI itself, or from whom?

As you might expect, struggling against an alleged threat of “climate change” is central to this enormous, planet-wide, big-power enterprise presided over by Bill Clinton, the most important person in the world.

Building on his long term commitment to preserving the environment, President Clinton launched the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative (CCI) in August 2006, with the mission of applying the Foundation’s business-oriented approach to fight against climate change in practical, measurable, and significant ways.”

Recognizing the opportunity to fight climate change in the world’s cities, CCI is working with 40 of the world’s largest cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of large-scale programs, a purchasing alliance, and measurement tools to track progress and share best practices.

What best practices? We are told that part of this scheme to “help some large cities cut greenhouse gas emissions” is being carried out by “facilitating retrofitting of existing buildings”.

Insulating them against heat loss? Putting solar panels on their roofs? Who is paying?

Five large banks committed $1 billion each to help cities and building owners make energy-saving improvements aimed at lowering energy use and energy costs.

And what was the quid pro quo for the banks? We’d very much like to know.

And to be one of those lucky building owners – do you have to be a friend of the Clintons? Are you obliged to give a large donation to their Foundation?

At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign to accelerate bold federal policy on global warming. The 1Sky campaign supports at least an 80% reduction in climate pollution levels by 2050.

The CGI is going to “accelerate federal policy”? How? Is it perhaps relying on Hillary Clinton being president in 2017 for that?

On May 19, 2009, CCI announced the global Climate Positive Development Program where it will work with the U.S. Green Building Council to promote “climate positive” city growth.

Ah, the Clintons have their fingers in many pies and cookie jars. And they stir many pots.

Now we come to what may be an actual “good cause”, for which yet another initiative – the  Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) - has been launched …

… to target the root causes of poverty in Africa and promote sustainable economic growth.

The initiative will invest $100 million over the next 10 years in projects that will improve food security, clean water and sanitation, and quality health care. Right now, these programs are focused in Rwanda and Malawi, but can potentially be expanded to other countries in the future.

What is the Clinton role in this?

Together with the governments of these two countries, CDI has had such successes as helping farmers access fertilizer, disease-resistant seeds, irrigation systems, advanced planting techniques and micro-credit. This assistance has led to a record harvest in eastern Rwanda. CDI has also helped Partners in Health build new health care facilities in Neno, Malawi. In 2007 and 2008, CHDI assisted in the training of thousands of farmers on advanced planting techniques, helped to strengthen the organization, operations and sales of Rwandan coffee manufacturers and Malawian cotton farmers and partnered with local governments in large-scale developments including irrigation, hospital and school projects.

Excellent work. But as far as we can make out, not a cent of Clinton money has been spent on it.

There are many more Initiatives. There are conferences, strategies, the convening of “national thought leaders” to “discuss ways in which individuals, communities, and corporations can contribute to the health of others“. Aims include, f0r instance, getting American children to consume fewer calories; “increasing  the access of unbanked populations to starter bank accounts”; establishing a bus system in Rio de Janeiro whereby “four express corridors for articulated buses will connect the whole city”.

Who supplies the buses? Is the company that gets the contract duly grateful? Does it send a check to the Clinton Foundation to prove its gratitude? Or rather, of course, to suppport some good cause?

Still not a cent of Clinton money is said to have been given. We are assured, however, that 15% of $500 million has been spent on “charitable activities”.

If only someone would tell us how much on which.

What the Clintons want us to understand is that without them there are commitments that would not be made, advice that would not be given, thoughts that would not be thought, promotions that would not be promoted, strategies that would not be devised, buses that would not connect parts of cities, farmers that would not use advanced planting techniques. 

All that must surely make us feel how small and petty are our efforts to expose the Clintons’ corruption and malfeasance – as petty and pointless as shooting peas at a monument. The Clintons are too big to fail.

For pity’s sake, stop fooling about and elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency so that the Clintons, re-installed in the White House with the furniture and china they stole from it when they had to leave it for a while, can get even richer, be as powerful as anyone could possible get, and do even more good to mankind.

The stink of corruption 1

Well, yes, there is global pollution. Whether it warms anything is another question. But the stink of corruption emanating from the Clintons and their Foundation is polluting the atmosphere of the world.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reports:

Ukrainian energy mogul Victor Pinchuk has connections to the Clintons that go back almost a decade, and financial connections to the regime in Tehran that go much farther …

Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.

Newsweek [reports that it] has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors. Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea. Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.

In other words, Interpipe should have been slapped with penalties and sanctions for its operations with Iran. Pinchuk’s company has a US subsidiary, which means that US sanctions apply across the entire organization.

It was a clear case of sanctions-busting. So what happened?

The agency for imposing penalties for sanctions violations in these cases …  is the State Department.

Who was in charge at the State Department during this period? None other than Hillary Clinton.

The person in charge of enforcing sanctions on Iran somehow missed key violations from a man who was pouring millions of dollars into her family foundation.

Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. …

In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money.

The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. …

Now there’s a good cause for you if you are searching for one! Modernizing Ukraine! Give, give to stanch your bleeding heart!

Despite all of Pinchuk’s activity with Iran, the State Department apparently took no action against his company or Pinchuk himself. That lack of response finally got the attention of Rep. Steve Stockman last November, before his retirement, who requested that the Department of the Treasury investigate Interpipe. So far, there have been no developments on that front.

Sniff the air. As the reporter says: “That smells to high heaven.”

And the Pinchuk affair is only one instance of a foreign billionaire purchasing special favors from the present US government and a possible future US government:

There are many powerful people with access to enormous funds who go in for what we might call speculative bribery:

Pinchuk was among an elite few dumping tons of money into the Clinton Foundation … checks worth millions of dollars from company executives, philanthropists, billionaires and foreign organizations, among them … the Saudi Mohammed al-Amoudi and Rilin Enterprises, which is led by Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, a member of the Chinese parliament.

It’s a sort of bet. The donors are willing to wager vast sums on what they consider a fair probability that Hillary will be elected president of the mightiest nation on earth, and then, they expect, their generosity will garner its reward.

With rather less of a chance on their side, however, they are also trusting to the Clinton honor. If their trust is well placed, we would have to expect US foreign policy under the next President Clinton to be bought and pledged already. But the saving disgrace of the Clintons may turn out to be that they have no sense of honor, any more than a sense of honesty. Who would be  surprised? The foreign donors might be angry, but if they know anything about the Clintons at all they must know they were making no sure bet.

The Clinton Foundation’s “practice of accepting contributions from foreign countries” is said in the report to be “a major point of contention”. We can see why that may be the case. There was, for instance, a $500,000 check from Algeria “for Haitian earthquake relief”. There was nothing in the world stopping Algeria sending money direct to Haiti for earthquake relief, except that it was more concerned with bribing Hillary Clinton than relieving the victims of a natural disaster.

 Saudi Arabia and Norway have each given between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation since its inception, according to the organization’s records. …

For what? For Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea to fly about in a private jet? For Hillary to buy support for a presidential campaign run from the Foundation’s HQ?

Well, some of it perhaps. But some of it is also, definitely, for good causes.

On the subject of those lucky causes, what they are, and how good, we posted an article two days ago – The great good works and wonky dilemmas of William J. Clinton, April 18, 2015. Readers can judge for themselves how good they are.

Interested readers can also go to clintonfoundation.0rg/about, where the three Clintons boast:

We believe that the best way to unlock human potential is through the power of creative collaboration. That’s why we build partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere to work faster, better, and leaner; to find solutions that last; and to transform lives and communities from what they are today to what they can be, tomorrow.

Everywhere we go, we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job. Whether it’s improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth, or helping communities address the effects of climate change, we keep score by the lives that are saved or improved.

What began as one man’s drive to help people everywhere grew quickly into a foundation committed to helping people realize their full potential. Because the best thing we can do together is give others the chance to live their best life stories.

We’re all in this together.

They’ll take the whole global village. They’ll take what there is to take. In a jolly, communitarian way. (And even individuals can be helped by the Clintons and a bit of foreign money to “work leaner”.) By hook and by crook, the Clintons will realize their full potential. They are living their best life story.

For more about this source of moral sepsis, read here about a new book by Peter Schweizer, titled: Clinton Cash: How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

Our guess is that the corruption goes far, far deeper than anyone has yet found out, or ever will.

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